|Not only is this book well researched, it also incorporates actual text from its subjects when possible.|
What I liked most about this book is that it covers a wide range of people I had never heard of, bringing to light truly "uncelebrated" people like: Jourdon Anderson, a freed slave who wrote a wry, pointed letter to his former owner; Stagecoach Mary Fields, a pioneering postal worker who was quick with a gun and her wits; Willie Kennard, who was made sheriff with the expectation that he would immediately be slaughtered; Cathay Williams, a woman who disguised herself as a man to serve as a soldier in the Civil War; Blind Tom Wiggins, a blind, autistic slave who became a highly accomplished musician; Millie and Christine McCoy, conjoined twins who toured the world as The Two-Headed Nightingale; Victor Green, the author of a guidebook for black people traveling across the US, and Eugene Bullard, a WWI fighter pilot who was celebrated in France but ignored in his homeland. These tales not only inform the reader about notable figures, but also the social conditions under which they lived and their contributions to our culture. Strange Fruit Volume II is exceptional work on an important, overlooked aspect of US history. Impressively, I feel it could be read and taught in multiple grade levels, from elementary to high school.
Additionally, more so than the first volume, this one is more uniform in terms of its story presentations. Each one has its own title and has space to breathe. The first book felt more like a collection of tales that may have appeared elsewhere, and had mixed formatting. This one seems much more intentional and measured, providing more coherence and polish and showing much more confidence and craft in its artwork and storytelling. This book is one of the few sequels that is better than its predecessor.
This book's creator Joel Christian Gill is the the Chair of Foundations at the New Hampshire Institute of Art. In addition to the Strange Fruit books, he has also published a couple of extended biographies of African-Americans in his Tales of the Talented Tenth series, on lawman Bass Reeves and motorcyclist Bessie Stringfield. He speaks more about his comics work in this interview.
I was not able to find many reviews online for this book, but what I did locate was positive. called it "a quick-to-read curiosity-satisfier is exactly what’s needed for home or school." For those interested in hearing Gill speak more about the need for sharing these uncelebrated narratives, you can listen to this interview .
Strange Fruit Volume II was published by Fulcrum Publishing, and they offer more info about it here.